Tag Archives: interviewer

Answering the Interview Question: Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?

Ideal responses for one of the trickiest interview questions.

This one is right up there with “tell me your top five strengths and weaknesses.” In an ideal world, prospective employers would only ask about your workplace experiences (teamwork, job responsibilities, how you handled projects, etc.) and draw their own conclusions about you as an employee from there.

But that doesn’t always happen. Some companies have set questions they ask potential employees to weed out undesirable candidates from the rest of the applicants. Asking where you see yourself  in five years is one of those questions.

Your answer can tell them something about your drive, your desire to keep working at their company, and where you think this position fits into your career and overall life.

Here are our tips on how to best answer.

Focus on Upward Movement

Most employers want an employee that plans on improving over time. They don’t want you to be content with the same responsibilities year after year. The expectation is that you’ll come to master some of your responsibilities, and be able to handle more work (whether that means just more duties or an outright promotion).

So when they ask where you see yourself in five years, don’t say the same position. Aim for a management position, just not the position your possible manager has (you don’t want to seem like you’re gunning for their job). Find a specific position if you can (___supervisor, ___manager, etc.), not just “a management position.” Note that you hope to use all of the experience and responsibilities you will pick up in this position in your future career.

Show Your Passion for Learning

Employers love employees that love to learn. If you’re constantly improving yourself, you’re continually making yourself a more talented and desirable employee.

In five years, you want to still be learning, still honing your skills. Whether that means obtaining a certain metric (___ number of customer services calls an hour, ____ increase in page views on a website, ___% increase in product production time, etc.), taking continual online training courses, obtaining a certification, or earning a degree, tell your interviewer about it. Make sure to associate all of that learning with the position you’re interviewing for, and how it will help the company as a whole.

Illustrate Your Desire to Stay At the Company

General turnover is higher now than in previous years. The current economy is a job seeker’s market. That means employers are looking for people who are in it for the long haul. When they ask you about where you want to be in five years, tell them you plan to be at ___ company. Mention a project you’ve read about online that’s coming up in the future you’d like to be a part of, or a future product you want to help create.

Research the company’s upcoming plans (news releases are great for this). Is there anything that looks like it will be launching within the next five years or so? Mention you want to be involved in that, and you’ll show that you really know the company.

And that’s how to answer the question!

Show you’re a stellar employee with real goals who truly wants the position. That’s what they’re asking for, anyway. “Do you really want this job? Will you work hard at this job?  Are you in this for the long haul? Okay, then prove it.”

And now you’re ready to do just that.

Have you ever had to answer this question? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments section below!

How to Interview Your Next Boss

interview_your_next_boss_webDuring most interviews, there comes a point when the interviewer turns the tables and asks if you have any questions for them. Though this may be intimidating if you’re unprepared, it can also be a great time to stand out from the competition with some well-crafted questions of your own. Plus, asking questions about the job, the company, and your future employers’ goals helps you learn more about the job.

The Right Questions
The next time you’re faced with this question during an interview, don’t panic. While some questions will emerge from the conversation you have with your interviewer, there are some back-up questions to have ready just in case. To help you have an even more successful interview, consider the following questions:

  1. How do you evaluate a person’s performance in this job? What are the important milestones that show they’re successful?
  2. After this person starts work, what tasks would you expect them to accomplish?
  3. How much travel is expected in this position?
  4. Can you tell me a bit about the make-up of the team? How does this position fit into the rest of the department?
  5. What are your goals for 2015 as a department/team/company?
  6. What does a typical day here look like? What are the hours, and what are the norms when it comes to working overtime or answering email after hours?
  7. What do you think are the major events or trends that have shaped your company’s plans this year?
  8. What do you enjoy most about working here?
  9. What is your career story? How did you get this current role?
  10. Does this company have a strong social media presence? What are the norms for using social media here?
  11. What does a typical career path look like for the person in this role?
  12. How has this position evolved since it was created? Is it a new position, or a vacancy?
  13. How do people within the company communicate? Are there regular staff meetings, or is email the main form of communication?

The Wrong Questions
While these are great questions to keep the conversation going during a job interview, there are some questions you should avoid.

  • Don’t ask your interviewer what the company does. This shows that you didn’t research the company before you arrived and may suggest a lack of interest in the position.
  • You should also avoid asking about time off for vacations, as discussing previous commitments before being offered a position is generally frowned upon.
  • Avoid asking about salary during the first interview, and don’t come right out and ask if you got the job. This puts interviewers on the spot and makes you seem impatient. Instead, consider asking about the next steps in the process and following up with a thank-you note.

What are your go-to questions during a job interview? Share with us in the comments section below!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

4 Tips for a Stress-Free Interview

stress_free_interview_webNo matter how experienced or confident you are in your professional life, when you’re approaching a job interview, you feel the pressure. It’s stressful knowing that you have just a short while to impress an employer and convince them that you’re the best fit for the position. There are ways, though, to alleviate your stress. In fact, these four tips can put you on the path to a stress-free interview.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
You may have heard it a million times, but preparation is absolutely key for a successful interview. And, if you know you’ve done everything you can possibly do to set yourself up for a positive interview experience, then you’ll feel less pressure. So make sure you check-off each item on your interview to-do list and take time to think through some of the interview questions you expect to be asked. It’s also good to review what not to do during an interview so you can avoid the top three interview sins.

Burn Off the Jitters
Nothing blasts stress away like working up a sweat. The morning of your interview, schedule time to do at least 30 minutes of some form of exercise. Whether it’s taking a brisk walk, lifting weights, or doing yoga, this physical activity will burn off your jitters and help you relax. A recent article from Huffington Post revealed that exercise is not only good for your heart, but also boosts your mood, self-confidence, ability to cope with future stress, and brain function. If you don’t have time in the morning, then fit a workout in the evening before. This can also have the added benefit of helping you sleep better.

Ease Up On the Caffeine
While it may be tempting to down some caffeinated beverages before your interview, don’t do it! Ken Yeager, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychiatry at Ohio State University, told Huffington Post, “Caffeine is always going to make stress worse.” Plus, it will further compound your feelings of pressure and stress by impacting your sleep quality. So stay away from caffeinated coffee, tea, and soda, as well as chocolate, which is an often-overlooked caffeine source.

Get Some Shut-Eye
In case you haven’t caught on from the previous tips, sleep is important to the success of your interview! Nothing adds pressure to a situation like feeling tired, sleep-deprived, and out-of-sorts. And, as international neuroscientist Dr. Tara Swart explained in a CNN report, “On top of the obvious health risks, when you have any sleep disturbance, your IQ drops by 5-8 points.” That means a good night’s rest can make the difference between impressing a future employer and bombing the interview.

Job interviews can be one of the most stressful situations you face in life. But, it is within your power to decrease your stress and alleviate the pressure so you’re able to walk into your interview ready to impress.

What has helped you cope with the stress of an upcoming interview? How do you ensure you’re at your best? Share your tips in the comments section below.

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Jump Start Your Next Job Interview with These Top Five Questions

interview_questions_webYou’ve landed the job interview, but you have mixed emotions. You’re both excited that you made the cut and anxious about how to answer the interviewer’s questions.

While it’s normal to feel this way before an interview, being well prepared and confident in providing answers that position you as the best person for the job will help you get it. One way to appear confident and well prepared is by making sure you know how to answer those important questions.

While interviewers ask questions geared to specific positions, most also ask several general questions at nearly every interview. This means you can actually prepare for these questions early, and with some tweaking, tailor them to your current job interview. These broad questions help companies learn a little more about you, determine if you are a fit for their culture, and see if you are qualified for the job.

Tell me about yourself.

This is your elevator speech. Usually the first question, it is intended to break the ice. Provide a brief recap here of your work experience and any applicable education and make sure to highlight the experience that specifically pertains to the position. Wrap up by mentioning what you like to do outside of work. Be careful not to give too long of an answer and use up all your interview time with this one question. Three to four minutes is a good amount of time, so rehearse this one with a stopwatch.

What is your greatest strength?

This is one of the easier questions. Determine two or three of your strongest skills and draft some responses. During the interview, reply with the skill most appropriate for the job’s qualifications. Wrap up your answer with how that strength has helped you succeed in the past and how it will help you effectively perform this job.

What is your greatest weakness?

This usually follows “What is your greatest strength?” and can be harder to answer. There are a couple ways to answer this. Try turning a negative into a positive. For example, you might get frustrated when team members try to outshine each other and jeopardize an entire project. Explain how you work to improve upon this trait and what this has taught you about yourself. Another option is to answer by mentioning a skill that is not essential to the job. Again, follow up with what you’ve learned and how you have tried to improve. It’s important that employers know you are open to continually improving your job skills.

Why are you the right person for the job?

If “Tell me about yourself” was your elevator speech, then this one is more likely a sales presentation. Look over your resume and find the two or three skills or attributes that make you a perfect fit for the job at hand and compose an answer that directly links these attributes to the job requirements. Convince the interviewer that you have the right skills, that you would be a great fit for the company culture, and that you can succeed in the job.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?

Draft one or more responses for the accomplishments you are most proud of and, again, link them to the job’s requirements. If you can provide evidence of how your employer benefited from your accomplishments, it could be your ace in the hole.

Hopefully you’re feeling a little more confident about those looming interview questions. Now it’s time to get to work and start preparing for your next interview. Good luck!

Is there a different question you are often asked during job interviews? Tell us what it is and how you answer in the comment section below.

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

How to Answer “Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?”

how_to_answer_webOne common interview question that tends to catch even the most prepared interviewee off guard is, “Why did you leave your last job?”

Although you may not be sure how to answer this question without hurting your chances of landing the job, it’s important to remain confident when telling interviewers what you can bring to their company. So, here are some tips on how to answer this critical question without working up a sweat.

Keep it simple.
As a general rule, interviews aren’t the place to air your dirty laundry. While honesty and open communication are necessary and respected elements of any interview, there are a number of creative responses to answering this age-old question without disclosing too much.

If the reason you left your previous job would take 30 minutes to explain, don’t go that route. Your interviewer has a busy schedule and doesn’t need a lengthy explanation. Instead of ranting, raving, or adopting a style of full disclosure, try to hone your reason down into a shorter, truthful answer.

Don’t badmouth your previous boss.
You won’t get along with every boss you’ll ever have, and interviewers know that. But, telling them how awful your boss was will only make them concerned that you’ll talk the same way about their company if you left. Instead, try something like:

“After speaking in length with my manager, we decided that my vision for my role wasn’t the same as their overall goals. I decided it was best to part ways so they could find someone better suited to their vision.”

You don’t have to say, “I was fired.”
There are a number of reasons why employees are terminated from their jobs, and if you’ve experienced one of them, you aren’t obligated to simply say so. Instead, dig deeper into why you were let go. Did you lack the skills necessary for the job? Were you desperate for work that wasn’t right for you? If so, try some of these phrases:

“I really needed to find a job, and I made the mistake of accepting one that wasn’t the right match for me. It was a mistake I’ve learned from and won’t make again.”

“Under new leadership, my company let some employees go. This cleared the way for me to have the opportunity to apply with your company.”

Or, if you weren’t a good fit for your old job, go a step further and research the company culture of the place where you’re interviewing. List some of their well-known traits, like corporate giving or community involvement, when using this response:

“I’d prefer to work in an environment whose company’s culture is more suited to my own.”

If you were let go because of downsizing, make that clear.
Interviewers understand that businesses go through ups and downs. If you were let go due to downsizing or economic turmoil, be honest about it. Try using one of the following answers:

“Unfortunately, my position was eliminated when the company decided to scale back.”

“I knew the company was downsizing, so I decided to seek another job before my position was eliminated.”

Show your strengths.
Though talking about previous jobs can be a tough subject, it can also show the interviewer the skills you can bring to their position. If your old job was wearing you down or wasn’t right for you, try some of these answers to show that you’re focused on your career:

“When I decided to take my career down a different path, my previous employer didn’t have the opportunities I needed.”

“I believed I’d learned everything I could in that position, and I wanted to find a new challenge that would help me better utilize my skills on a daily basis.”

“I was ready for a change, but it didn’t seem ethical to take company time to go on interviews. I left so they could find someone more suited for the position while I looked to better my career path.”

“I didn’t believe there was any room to grow with my former company.”

Be honest.
If your reasons for leaving your previous job were unavoidable, like moving, personal issues, or illness, explain those reasons and be honest. Your interviewer will understand, and you’ll show that you’re personally committed to your life as well as your career.

Try not to dwell on this question for long. Your interview shouldn’t be about past jobs, but rather about the job you’re trying to get. Always use any opportunity you can to remind the interviewer what a great asset you’d be to their company.

How have you answered this question during an interview? Let us know in the comments section below!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

4 Secrets of Hiring Managers

hiring_manager_secrets_webGetting an interview is a great first step to landing a job. But, how do you ensure you’re a top pick for the position when you meet face-to-face with the hiring manager? We asked four hiring professionals from Express Employment Professionals to share their secrets from the initial phone call to the follow-up in order to help you stand out in your next interview.

Secret #1: The first impression is hard to change.
You only get one chance to make a first impression. Sometimes that first impression may be through a phone call or email, so don’t forget to act professional in non-face-to-face interactions. “A candidate who responds quickly and has a professional demeanor over the phone, in email, or on my voicemail is someone who usually excels in person,” said Lee Wenninger, owner of the Fishers, IN Express office.

Lauren Chandler, a recruiter at the Howell, MI Express office, agrees. “Did the person arrive on time, call back when they were supposed to, or follow up when they should have? This could be a big indicator of whether or not they will be a dependable employee,” she said. “They’re basically on an audition with us, and they have to pass our audition to get to the next one.”

If your first impression happens to be during an interview, be as professional as possible. Here are a few things Joe Paquette, a consultant at Express, looks for in an ideal candidate:

And, don’t forget to be respectful to the company’s receptionist or anyone you come in contact with. “I always ask staff members how they were treated by someone who is applying internally,” Joe said.

Secret #2: The reason you’re looking for a job matters to employers.

Before your interview, you may want to ask yourself why you’re looking for a job. For many jobseekers, finding a job is essential because they aren’t currently working. But, if you’re looking for a job due to other reasons, be honest about why you’re searching. If you indicate on your resume that you’re “looking for additional opportunities,” some hiring managers might see this as a disguise for more serious reasons, like challenges or issues working with a team member or manager.

“I dive into past work history to look for patterns,” Joe said. “I ask the candidate what they think their previous or current supervisor would say about them personally, and I follow up with that supervisor to see if their thoughts are the same.”

If you’re looking for a new job due to challenges in your current one, turn it into a positive. Emphasize how your past experiences have prepped you to become successful in the role you’re interviewing for and give helpful examples.

Secret #3: Asking questions shows interest in the job.

If you land an interview, be prepared to not only answer questions, but to ask some of your own as well. According to Joe, asking questions throughout the interview process shows that you’re interested in the position and driven to succeed. To get ahead of the game on this hiring manager secret, remember to:

  • Research the company you’re applying for and make a note of important information, like the date they were founded, the name of the CEO, and the company’s core values.
  • If you’re given the name of your interviewer beforehand, research them as well. Find out about their educational background and interests in case you can use them in the conversation.
  • Develop a list of questions you may have about the company, the role you’re interviewing for, or the hiring process.

Showing interest in the job or company you’re applying for goes a long way, according to Carrie Smith, a recruiter for the Howell, MI Express office. “If they seem uninterested in the opportunity to be here, I find myself being uninterested in them as well.”

And, when you’re answering a question, try not to talk forever. “Nothing takes you out of the top category quicker than not being able to get to the point. Answer the question, then elaborate if needed,” Lauren said.

Secret #4: A follow-up note is very important.

Following up after an interview is important to hiring managers. Send an email or letter after your interview to say thanks and provide any details you may have forgotten during the interview. And, don’t forget to emphasize your interest in the position. If you don’t have the email address for your interviewer, do some research to find their contact information or call the company and ask for it.

If your interviewer gives you something to do after the interview, like performing a test or providing a sample of your work, do it. And, do it quickly. According to Joe, giving an interviewee a task lets hiring managers see how much time, effort, and thought the candidate puts into that task and if they are someone who can take direction. If you don’t complete the work you’re given, it could put the brakes on your interview process.

“I run from someone who doesn’t complete the task or sends me something without a lot of thought put into it,” Joe said. “It’s fine not to understand the task, but someone who is serious about the job will follow up to get more details if they’re stuck.”

How do you ensure you’re a top pick during an interview? Share with us in the comments section below.

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Infographic: Job Interviewing 101

I’ve had my fair share of awkward interviews. From interviewing in a magazine editor’s office while her pet mastiff sniffed and growled at me, to a real estate interview where the only thing said was, “So, Jared, tell me how creative you are.” I’ve seen it all.

That’s why this infrographic by Interview Success Formula can be a useful guide to identifying the different personality types of interviewers and how you can connect with them. Take a look at the infographic and let me know if there are any other interviewer types they should include. Sound off in the comments section below.
Job Interviewing 101